Thursday's (1-16) Baseball Practice Notes

The offense was back and in full force this afternoon at Sunken Diamond. Included in this practice report is a detailed look at today's intra-squad game both from the hitting perspective and the pitching perspective along with all the latest news and notes.

It was a beautiful day out at the ballpark this afternoon, almost an April or May feeling to it in terms of the weather.  Today's practice featured another intra-squad game as the team prepares for the start of the season which is only nine days away.  This afternoon's scrimmage was much more like a real game in that the hitters started with the standard 0-0 count and the pitchers all stayed out on the mound until they finished an inning.  Like in the fall, there was plenty of offense which was in contrast to some of the intra-squad games that I saw last week where the pitchers dominated.  The hitters were broken-up into three groups, four players on two of the teams, and five guys on the third team.  When one team was hitting, the other two played in the field.  23 combined runs were scored in the game that lasted a total of 8 1/2 innings.

The Hitters :
Group A : Tobin Swope, Danny Putnam, Ryan Garko, Jed Lowrie - This team scored nine of the 23 runs and was led by Swope.  The senior shortstop went 4-for-6 with a double and a home run.  Tobin, of course, has never hit a home run in any game at Stanford so if he's going to start blasting a few over the fence this year then watch out.  Garko also had a couple of hits including a line drive off the wall in left center that almost went through the wall.  Bottom line though, this was Swope's day as he looked great at the plate.

Group B : Jonny Ash, Carlos Quentin, John Mayberry Jr., Donny Lucy - This group also scored nine runs as it was the Carlos Quentin show at the plate.  The slugging right fielder went 5-for-7 with two homers and a double.  Quentin's first bomb was a shot to deep left that apparently landed right next to the softball field stands, just an unbelievable blast.  Carlos also apparently hit a homer in yesterday's intra-squad so it appears he's starting to heat up for the start of the season.  Jonny Ash also had a good day with three hits.  He and Swope (7 hits combined) looked much better at the plate today when compared with the two frosh (Lewis and Lowrie) who combined for zero hits.  Pretty quiet day for Mayberry although he did steal a base showcasing some pretty good speed.

Group C : Brian Hall, Sam Fuld, Chris Lewis, John Hester, Chris Minaker - This team scored only five runs today but was comprised of three freshmen so not totally surprising.  Hall was the leader of this group with two hits including a home run while Hester also blasted a deep homer to left.  Sam Fuld finished 0-for-4 with a couple of strikeouts.  All kinds of offense in practice today and Fuld was not a part of any of it, go figure.

The Pitchers :
Jonny Dyer and Matt Manship were the two starters today while Drew Ehrlich, Mark Jecmen, and David O'Hagan also saw action.  Dyer really struggled this afternoon giving up six runs in his three innings of work.  He was really victimized by the long ball giving up a three-run blast to Swope and another homer to Quentin.  He also struggled some with his control as he walked three.  All in all, not a good outing, but I'm still hopeful Dyer will be a significant contributor out of the bullpen this year, I think he just had a bad day.  Meanwhile, Manship threw very well this afternoon.  He started his outing by giving up two hard hit singles to Ash and Quentin but settled down and induced Mayberry to hit into a double play and then struck out Lucy to retire the side.  He then went on to throw two scoreless innings without giving up a hit, so it was nine straight outs without giving up a hit for this freshmen hurler, quite a feat considering the way the hitters were hitting today.  Manship looked like he had a good control of three pitches and was consistently getting out ahead in the count.  He also showed quite a bit of confidence with his offspeed pitch throwing a 3-1 beauty of a curve to Ryan Garko that froze the powerful catcher.  Manship struggled in his fourth and final inning of work giving up three runs on three hits, two of those runs coming on a Carlos Quentin home run.  The pitch to Quentin actually didn't look too bad though as it was a low change-up that Quentin golfed over the fence in left center.  All things considered though, I thought it was a very good outing.  Manship will definitely see some action out of the bullpen this year (midweek starter?) and looks to have all the makings of a future starting pitcher.

Ehrlich, Jecmen, and O'Hagan also saw action today with Jecmen pitching the most effectively of this group.  The sophomore right hander did give up three runs in his four innings of work, but I was encouraged by his outing.  The first run scored when Jecmen walked the leadoff hitter, a wild pitch moved him to second, a ground ball to third, and a fly ball scored the run.  The other two runs were on a couple of solo homers.  Other than that though, there were really no hard hit balls off Jecmen.  He walked only one batter while recording three strikeouts in his four innings of work.  As always, very electric stuff he just needs to be more consistent.  Jecmen did have one at-bat that really stood out to me as in it he fell behind 3-1 to Quentin but came back with two great breaking balls to strike him out.  He just has these moments where he looks unhittable at times.  Ehrlich and O'Hagan had some moments but neither really pitched very well.  O'Hagan still has that great curve ball and will throw it at any count.  Both these guys should see plenty of action in middle relief this year.

Before the intra-squad game today, the team did a defensive drill for the infielders which involved live hitters trying to hit ground balls so the infielders could work on turning double plays.  My observations from this drill ...
    * Lucy and Mayberry both looked solid over at first.  I think Lucy is better but there's really not that big of a drop-off.
    * Lewis and Lowrie have the potential to be really great defensive players while here at Stanford.
    * Ash is an underrated defensive player at second base.  He's no Chris O'Riordan, but he'll make some plays over there.
    * Swope backed-up Hall at third base which gave me the impression that if for some reason Hall moves to the outfield, Swope may shift over to 3rd with Lewis, most likely, being inserted at short.
    * Mayberry did not see any time at third base (no action at third in the game too and I haven't seen him over there in awhile)
Bottom line, this team I think will still be an above average defensive ballclub.  They won't be "great" like last year but still should be "good."  Coach Marquess preached a few times "I don't want a highlight, I want an out."  We won't see nearly the same amount of highlight reel plays that the infielders gave us last year, but I still think this will be a solid defensive team.

Other notes :
* Chris Lewis looks to be the most vocal of the freshmen infielders.  I could see him as one of the future leaders of this team.

* Speaking of being vocal, Coach Marquess was quite vocal today at practice.  He really is all the time it's just something I've never touched upon in these reports.  He shows no signs out there of a coach who might be tired of his job after being there now for over 26 years (even longer when you count his days as an assistant).  It's quite refreshing to see.

* Freshman first baseman Ben Summerhays had knee surgery and will be out for most, if not all, of the season.

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